Columnist Sally Jenkins, here:
… For years, athletic directors have styled themselves as CEO-types and moaned about the difficulties of managing costs. But a Washington Post project published earlier this week shows that these so-called executives are about as fiscally responsible as Gabor sisters serving sevruga in chinchilla capes. The truth is, their deficits aren’t a necessity. They’re a choice.
Throughout The Post’s findings is the distinctly acrid smell of books cooking. The ledgers show that there is never enough money to fully comply with Title IX or cover the true cost of a scholarship but always enough to pay themselves more or to buy a new toy.
… The chair of an engineering department is not permitted to spend indiscriminately, so why should athletic directors be able to — especially when they siphon university money away from other departments to cover their overdrafts?
As matters stand, athletic departments aren’t answerable to anyone, budgeted separately from the university and almost completely unregulated. Their only real oversight comes from high-dollar donors. The reason for this is that years ago college presidents tried to wash their hands by allowing them to become stand-alone entities that raise and spend funds however they wish. Author Gilbert Gaul, in his new book “Billion Dollar Ball,” likens them to hedge funds or entertainment divisions rather than academic entities. As one Texas administrator put it to Gaul, “We eat what we kill.”
But that’s not enough, so they take from the academic side too.